Perhaps you’ve been to Bangkok before. Perhaps it’s your first time in Bangkok and you simply look for an unusual itinerary, a step removed from the tourist throng, a little deeper into the authentic city, with perhaps the chance of a little exercise, too, and maybe a hint of nature along the way. Whichever of these, you’ve come to the right place.
Your 3-Days Bangkok Itinerary
1- Unusual Bangkok Itinerary: Day One
Ride off your jet-lag or stretch the travel kinks from your body with an off-the-beaten track cycle tour. Starting in Chinatown, crossing over the river and exploring historic Thonburi, this is a chance to wheel through an authentic side of the city, through narrow alleyways, via hidden temples, witnessing busy market life, sampling sights and smells most tourists and informed by expert guides.
After this sensual feast, you can slow down, escape the heat and bustle, and experience what it’s like to be blind at the incredible Dialogue in the Dark (MRT: Sam Yan). Why do such a thing? Strangely, it’s an immersive experience like no other, where, guided blindfold around a variety of simulated environments, you not only get an insight into the challenges blind people daily encounter, but also get to experience the astounding accompanying heightening of other senses, as our amazing brain compensates to create a new inner world to meet the outer one.
An unusual dining experience and must-try in Bangkok!
Now your senses should be suitably primed to drink in all the sights and sounds – and alcohol! – of the more colourful locales of Bangkok’s famous, and infamous, nightlife. Take the Hangover Tour, based not on how you will feel the next day but rather on the film The Hangover 2, which was filmed in Bangkok. Accompanied by an experienced ‘nightlife specialist’, you will tour bars featured in the movie, along with other great venues, including Thai boxing fights and lady boy shows.
Alternatively, if that seems a little too raucous, you can take a more innocent tuk-tuk tour, seeing temples and other tourist sites, both quieter and more beautiful lit up at night, and enjoy the breezy fun of these zippy, open air vehicles.
2- Unusual Bangkok Itinerary: Day Two
If the hangover tour didn’t steal you away to several days of alcoholic hijinks, then you should hopefully be available to continue your unusual Bangkok itinerary. You can either have a lazy early morning to recover or, if you didn’t partake – or are simply made of sterner stuff – this is the morning you’re allowed to go tick off one of the main Bangkok tourist spots, be it the Grand Palace, a temple or two, or a sedate cruise down the Chao Phraya river or stroll through Lumpini Park.
After that concession to convention, it’s back to the unconventional and a trip beyond the urban jungle for a taste of nature, and the chance to ‘go ape’ in a genuine jungle gym comprised of suspended bridges, spider nets, Tarzan jumps and flying swings high in the trees.
But if that sounds a little too exhausting, or you simply want to stay in the city, try a walking tour specially designed for foodies that takes you off for tastings at eateries only the locals know. Become introduced to the four regions of Thai cuisine, sample divine desserts, enjoy herbal drinks at an 80 year old shop-house, witness how the sweet and spicy tastes of the nation’s cuisine should be prepared, and also learn how and when to shop for fruit.
If you still have energy for another evening on the town, try a scooter tour that combines a little sight-seeing with that popular evening pastime of – drinking! This is the ultimate ‘booze cruise’, zipping amidst city traffic between refreshments at hip rooftop bars, and driven by your own private scooter chauffeur!
But if tonight your taste is more geared to grub than groove, you can opt instead for a ‘food safari’ scooter tour and enjoy a three course meal in three separate places of your choosing, selected from a list of top restaurants picked by locals. Between courses, enjoy the city sites accompanied by an informative headset commentary.
3- Unusual Bangkok Itinerary: Day Three
Close to Chatuchak Park and the famous weekend market of the same name is a lesser known park known as Suan Rot Fai, or Railway Park (BTS: Mo Chit / MRT: Chatuchak Park). Suan Rot Fai is a real taste of nature in the city, where you can hear bird song, spot lounging monitor lizards and turtles, and enjoy a wonderful wander. It’s also perfect for a bike ride or a jog with its three kilometres of winding track, set in 150 acres of rolling land, with fields and picturesque lakes. Bikes can be rented at the park along with paddleboats and kayaks on the lakes. There’s also tennis and basketball courts, a driving range, and a children’s playground.
On the top floor of the luxurious Emporium shopping mall, a design classic in itself, is “one of the world’s best design centres” (Time Out), the Thailand Creative and Design Centre (BTS: Phrom Phong). Sprawling across 4,500 square metres, the TCDC is a government backed initiative to showcase and inspire the nation’s design. Rotating exhibitions feature profiles of international products, retrospectives of regional handicrafts and creativity, along with occasional talks from design experts. It’s an essential place to visit for anyone with even a passing interest in design, and its adjoining café, with good views, is also a great place to catch up on some work.
Right next door is the beautiful Benjasiri Park, 11.6 acres of grass, lake, running track, sports courts and playground. Be there at 6 pm each day to watch as walkers, joggers and aerobic dancers stop, virtually mid-step, to observe the national anthem, piped around the park by loud speaker.
For your final evening in the city, why not make it a memorable and unusal night at the stylish Sing Sing Bar and Theatre (BTS: Phrom Phong or Thonglor)? Sing Sing is said to have the most creative interior design concept in Bangkok. Walkways flow into hidden seating areas and vantage spots, with a layout designed according to feng shui elements, the whole design loosely modelled on a Chinese brothel theme. There’s intricate wrought ironwork, dragon motifs, a ceiling that drips numerous beautiful lanterns, and elegant hostesses dressed in classic, figure-hugging Chinese dresses. The music is as hip as it gets, featuring cool electronica and deep house, and the stage regularly features performances from international recording artists, along with some more visual and exotic performers.
You may not have seen all the usual sights, but with this itinerary, you’ll have certainly experienced some of the best of the real Bangkok, and have memories of the city that will last and which will indeed be like no other.
Suggestions on where to stay
For families & solo travellers:
How about The Atlanta in Sukhumvit (BTS: Phloen Chit), described by the LA Times as, “The Taj Mahal of budget hotels.” First of all, its location is fantastic for getting around the city, close to the BTS Skytrain and just a few stops from the modern downtown areas such as Asok, Siam and Silom. Its art-deco lobby, unchanged since the 1950s, instantly transports visitors to another time, and whiling away an evening in its fantastic restaurant to timeless classic jazz is a dreamy pleasure. There are numerous eccentric touches and the character, especially at this price, is off the scale.
For the Upper-class backpacker:
The Yard, in the hip locale of Ari (BTS: Ari), is a great base to meet other travellers, with its comfortable dorm rooms, small bar on site, lovely common area, and daily activities like Thai food classes. Despite being – ingeniously! – built from old shipping containers, The Yard is beautifully laid out and, perhaps thanks to its friendly staff, incredibly homely, and peaceful, too. Ari itself is a great area to explore, boasting authentic, unadorned Bangkok charm and many characterful cafes and eateries. You can explore on one of The Yard’s own bikes for just 50 baht / day. An ideal choice if your are looking at a Budget Itinerary in Bangkok.
For the Digital Nomad:
If you’re combining work with pleasure, try Oneday | Pause and Forward, an attractive and modern combined hostel and co-working space in Sukhumvit (BTS: Phrom Pong). Forward is a 24-hours a day co-working space, while Pause is the hostel part of the operation, offering both dorms and private rooms, all rendered in industrial-loft style. There’s also a great café and restaurant attached.
Feel free to comment with any suggestions you may have on how to enjoy Bangkok in a less usual way! Remember sharing is caring 🙂
By Martin Higgins